Friday, February 21, 2020

The CFL vs XFL: Should We Feel Threatened?

Three CFL Free Agents have signed XFL contracts.


Ok.  Let's be real here, literally 3 CFL players have signed XFL contracts.  Three.  Is this reason to believe the XFL is a threat to the livelihood of the Canadian Football League?  In my latest video on the ABC Football YouTube channel, I talked about this and I admitted that I don't have a full opinion on the XFL because I haven't dedicated any real time to watching a game and I've really only viewed a few minutes here and there and maybe five minutes in total.  While we've heard for over a year about the XFL coming to fruition the league itself has only been in existence for 2 weeks.  Without watching one can know what's going on.  I haven't read Harry Potter but I get the gist of what it's about.  

*cue more shock and outrage*  

I know that Vince McMahon has poured a fortune into the venture.  I know that it was advertised along side NFL...but guess what?  The NFL season is over now.  Yes, the XFL is on major networks like ABC, FOX and ESPN but again in Canada we get TSN as our major sports provider and all 5 channels are dedicated to curling right now.  So as a CFL fan, I'm not seeing the talk that "KingOfGames2007" mentions in his comment on my video.  All the discussion has been on social media sites.  As well, we are assuming that Vince McMahon will be able to continue to support the league.  It all depends on game tickets sold, merchandise sales and TV revenue.  After only two weeks why would we believe the league can survive beyond a year or two or three?  We have to wait for at least 8 more weeks to make that judgement and while week one saw large crowds week two had lower numbers despite their social media gains.

Reality check.  The three CFL players to sign XFL contracts are SJ Green, Derek Dennis and Amanti Edwards.  All three are CFL free agents.  None of them were garnering interest from any of the 9 CFL teams.  All of them are older than 30.  Disclaimer: I am in no way calling them old or washed up.  I am stating facts.  Yes, every CFL player just like any regular human has to provide a life for himself and his family.  If I was essentially laid off from my job I'd go in search of a new job too.  We all would.  The idea that these players are fleeing the CFL just isn't true.  They are looking to make a livelihood just as an ex-CFLer might go into coaching or training etc.  It's possible these three players believed they should be paid a higher amount in the CFL and priced themselves out of a job as well.  Wouldn't that mean their only choice is the XFL if they wanted to continue their careers?

What we also know is the base salary in the XFL is $55,000 US and that's less than the base salary of a CFL player.  An XFL contract might give these players a chance to be "home" or it may not but since many players are American it's logical they'd want to work and play near families.  However, when an athlete signs in the XFL they sign with the league first and foremost and then they are delegated to a team.  At least that's my understanding.  So if a player has family somewhere it's also very possible they'd end up playing far from home anyway.  I don't see this as a benefit at this stage at all.  It would be no different than playing for a CFL team and living miles away from family with the exception they'd be paid in American dollars instead.

Every CFL player currently under contract cannot sign with the XFL.  Periodtt.  There is the possibility of a player with the XFL also gaining a CFL contract and playing in both leagues.  Think about this though... the XFL season is 10 weeks long plus the possibility of a week of play offs and another for the championship game.  The CFL season is an 18 game schedule plus 2 weeks of playoffs and then the Grey Cup.  If a player were to play in both leagues that's at least 28 games.  Can a body sustain that?  We already know the CFL schedule can be grueling.  Injuries happen just in training camp alone.  It might be a nice idea to try to gain 2 paychecks but at what cost to the longevity of a football career?  How many ice baths does that equate?  Furthermore, once under contract with the CFL unless it's only for one year, that player would have to become a free agent or be released to once again return to the XFL the following season.  This sounds like a CFLPA nightmare.

So now I'm going to talk about me for a bit.  I'm a busy person.  I have a job which I am dedicated to.  I have family responsibilities.  I am a rabid CFL and Roughriders fan.  I'm a blogger and administrator of ABC Rider Fans.  I enjoy shopping and weekends often take me grocery shopping and to the horrors of Costco.  It's currently the CFL off season but I also enjoy watching NBA and Nascar.  I also don't like to spend my entire day glued to the television.  We PVR a lot of things and we go out and live a life.  The only XFL games according to the schedule I downloaded which I can watch in week 3 are Houston/Tampa Bay on ABC 2pm ET or Dallas/Seattle on FOX 5pm ET.  If I intend to fulfill what "KingOfGames2007" asked me to do and watch an entire game - it will have to be one of these and it will have to be recorded too.  There's a whole debate to be had about watching sporting events live... but that's another topic.

It's difficult to fully commit.  We've seen the XFL try and fail before.  We've seen the AAF fold before barely getting off the ground.  We've seen the AAFL go bankrupt after being somewhat established.  The CFL is well over 100 years old and has a history and legacy.  That doesn't mean it's on sure footing either but it leads me to think it's a more viable choice and it's where my loyalty stands.

In the end, if you enjoy watching XFL then watch XFL.  Who cares what I think?  Is the XFL a threat to the CFL at this point?  No, I sincerely don't think so.  The CFL is quiet right now and Free Agency is basically over.  If there is some panic it's because it's nice to have something to talk about at the end of February when winter has gotten old and us Rider fans are busy dreaming about gophers instead of groundhogs.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Roughriders Free Agency 2020

After the "legal tampering period" of last week, Free Agency opened up Tuesday with a flurry of signings.  Some will say the LTP made Free Agency more exciting or in the very least more active.  All I know is that in it's first day (February 11th) ABC Rider Fans saw 42 posts of signings from all CFL teams...and that was just from one member posting.  It was hard to keep up and while day 2 of Free Agency was quieter there was still some activity.

Did the Toronto Argonauts leave anyone for other teams to sign?  Do they know there's a CFL cap?

I jest.

This post will review who the Saskatchewan Roughriders signed and re-signed, fans reaction and of course my opinion...if that counts for anything.

The entire time Chris Jones was Head Coach of the Roughriders it was said he wanted James Franklin at Quarterback but he was never signed.  I always said that if Jones wanted him here he'd be here.  Then Chris Jones exited Riderville and Jeremy O'Day brought in Cody Fajardo.  I thought we'd finally moved on from rumours.  That was until LTP opened the first week of February and speculation resurfaced about James Franklin coming to Saskatchewan.  *sigh*  Fans thought "why WHY?!"  2019 saw James Franklin as a Toronto Argonaut and while he looked somewhat promising as an Eskimo all that hype was distinguished when his play suffered setbacks as an Argo.  So you can imagine what we were all saying when news broke on Tuesday morning that the Roughriders had indeed signed James Franklin.  Pretty soon the media was putting their spin on it and talking about Franklin being a solid back up for Fajardo and quickly demoting Isaac Harker.  I think a lot of people forgot that the Riders actually already had 4 quarterbacks...Fajardo, Harker, Bennett and Hansen.  Harker was a capable backup against the Edmonton Eskimos in the final game of 2019 while Bryan Bennett became a really great special teams player.  Justice Hansen hails from Arkansas State and is a young 25 and if retained will be on the practice roster.  So where does James Franklin fit into things?  What we do know is that he worked under Riders new OC Jason Maas in Edmonton so there is chemistry as well as playbook knowledge there.  Franklin has said that he knows what his role is and that Cody is number one.  Isn't that what they all say?  We all know there is no one more popular than the back up Quarterback so I hope there is no controversy brewing here.

The next signing came in the form of Defensive Linemen Jordan Reaves.  He was signed to a one year extension.  His impact was mostly on special teams and according to his bio recorded 12 tackles in 2018.  This will be his third season in green and white after being injured at the 2019 training camp.  

Another Defensive signing came in the form of Linebacker Solomon Elimimian.  It was a little surprising that the Riders inked him because it was speculated that he'd be moving on.  While I still struggle with pronouncing his name, I know he is a valuable asset to the Riders.  He brings maturity and veteran presence at age 33.  I'm not going to list off his stats because that information is available everywhere...I just know that I'm pleased to have him back in green.

So that was the news on day one of Free Agency.  Some were critical that Jeremy O'Day didn't make a big splash but yet again in the media scrum February 10th he said they were mainly interested in bringing back the Riders own people.  He mentioned moving on from Naaman Roosevelt as well as Micah Johnson.  Those two big character names stir up all kinds of feelings among members of Rider Nation.  Micah ended up signing on with the BC Lions but as of the writing of this blog (Wednesday 2:10pm) Naaman is unsigned.  I think Naaman Roosevelt could be an entire blog topic on his own so I will leave it for another time.

Wednesday morning the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced the signing of Offensive Lineman Josiah St John.  Many may remember him as the hold out in the 2016 CFL Draft.  He was late to camp and many felt that because of these tactics never caught up with the team.  Then he was plagued with some injuries and the Riders moved on from him in 2019.  Before he was let go it did seem as though his play on the field improved and when I read his bio on the Riderville website he does sound impressive.  From all the things I listed above many Rider fans are left scratching their heads and mumbling things I can't post here.  After I put some thought into it and looked at what everyone else was saying I remembered that I myself saw his play improve when he was a Roughrider the first time but it was right at the end of his tenure.  This makes me believe that he can learn when given the time to prove himself.  In 2019 he worked under Jason Maas as an Edmonton Eskimo so there is some knowledge of scheme and playbook there with our new Offensive Coach.  I'd like to believe that the Riders GM wouldn't make a decision like this easily or lightly and he obviously knows a lot more than I do.  After all, JO get's paid the big bucks and...,well, I have this blog.

I love that Free Agency has everyone talking about football again.  We often say that there is no off season in Saskatchewan but interest does wain for sure.  If you are one of the people craving more football talk ABC Rider Fans is open for business 24/7.  Check out my About page to see where you can find all my social media outlets and don't forget to check out my new ABC Football YouTube Channel.  

Thanks for reading and as always... GO RIDERS.